Last year my boss nominated me for a ‘Top 30 Under 30’ professional award, and the journey I have been on since then has been (*warning*: cheesy) life changing. The award recognises young people doing really well in business and it was an absolute honour just to be recognised in the shortlist alone, let alone to win! Part of the prize included access to a series of personal development sessions with a professional life coach, designed predominantly to help develop communication and leadership skills. Right from my very first session I was fully invested in the programme. I dived head first into a discipline that taught me more about myself and how I interact with others than anything I have ever heard, watched or learnt before.
Since I completed the programme, I’ve had a couple of refresher sessions with John Borland of Spacious Coaching. His teaching style is open, honest and relatable with the focus always on self-awareness and the responsibility to become a better leader and ultimately, a better person.
My latest session was just this week and there’s one thing he said that has struck a chord with me. He said that until you understand your true self you will never really be happy. He explains this in more detail through our ego states. In a nutshell, we all have an ego and it is there purely to serve the promotion of ourselves or the protection of ourselves. It is only by figuring out not what you do for your ego but for your own self that leads to happiness.
Initially my brain went into panic mode and I thought that meant that I could no longer drive an Audi, buy a designer label or spritz my favourite Chanel perfume… ever again! I guess to a certain degree it’s made me reconsider the importance of these things as part of the bigger picture (taking into consideration my ego state) but this will mean something completely different to each of us. I think the question we should all really ask ourselves is “Do any of these things makes us truly happy or do we do them for other people, to show off for the ‘gram’?” Now don’t get me wrong, I drive an Audi because I like the way it looks (both to me and others) and I treat myself to a Ralph Lauren sweatshirt now and again because it’s stylish. But, I stay loyal to Chanel because it was the first perfume my mum ever bought me and each time I spray it, it reminds me of her. As I reached the grand old age of thirty I noticed I started doing lots of other things not because I could take a picture of them, but because they make me really, truly happy.
The reason I go on holiday is to escape work and the daily grind and to spend quality time with my husband so we can reconnect. I enjoy walks on the beach or through the countryside because the joy it brings Rhubarb is doubled by the joy it brings me seeing her frolicking (unless she is rolling in something disgusting or wading through a swamp). I have also recently sold my house and bought a new one for the most part because I wanted a bigger garden to grow more plants and veggies and ultimately spend more time outdoors.
Writing The Happy Plan helps me to focus not on my ego but on the things that bring me joy, and it is my mission to do more of what makes me happy. And I think it’s a question worth pondering for us all – What do you do for others, or for that ‘picture perfect moment’ to share on Instagram? And what do you do truly for yourself? The answers to the latter should be where you focus your time and energy.